A Blood Witch's Initiation

 

The Dark Baptism

While European traditional witchcraft practices, such as the ‘dark baptism’—performed at a witches’ sabbath—or coven gathering, is an important part of history, the witch trials and ‘burning times’ in Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth century, these traditions and rituals are relevant in the present time and have been a crucial part of my bloodline’s craft for centuries. Ceremonial practices such as these—commonly performed by a traditional blood witch, Satanic witch or their coven—are highly controversial and severely intense, but are also a proclamation of raging femininity and the conquering of patriarchal control. 

“Demonologically-themed witch-records commonly describe witches’ sabbaths . . . at which the demonic pact and sexual relations with the Devil were performed . . . Witches in the Auldern region formed covens which periodically met in the presence of the Devil at the quarters . . . there was disciplinary ritual and a hierarchy . . . the coven made obeisance to the Devil and engaged in promiscuous sex . . .”

Emma Wilby, from The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland

Throughout my family’s history, a blood witch’s bond to the Devil is consummated through the ceremonial act of the ‘dark baptism’ during which the witch seeking initiation into our bloodline’s coven will renounce the Catholic faith and offer themselves to the Devil by spiritually surrendering body and heart. Often this ritual is performed with the interweaving of blood and sex magick throughout intercourse between the witch and their lover—one who they have chosen and intuitively understand to be an important link between themselves and our creator. The sexual and passionate force exchanged between the witch, her lover and spirit partner during this ritual binds the witch to our coven and the Devil himself. 

“I put one of my hands on the crown of my head and the other to the sole of my foot and renounced all between my two hands to the Devil . . . He marked me in the shoulder and sucked out my blood from the mark and spat it into his hand . . .

Isobel Gowdie, from The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie, Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland, compiled by Robert Pitcairn

While it was said to be a common tradition throughout the history of European witchcraft that a witch would be given ‘the Devil’s mark’ during an initiation ceremony, in my family of hereditary witches—we were born with this distinct mark upon our flesh. We carry this trait without shame as a declaration of our vow to ‘live deliciously,’ if you will—that is, we have chosen to live a life of creation and magick—crafting art, passion, romance; all that is erotic, fulfilling and that which we deem sacred. We live without restriction, allowing ourselves to embrace all that the dark divine has to offer us. 

This particular chosen path is often represented poorly—or distorted entirely, implying witches of our kind seek to hurt or destroy—and yet, our only genuine desire is liberation and the ability to choose for ourselves. Our path is one that relinquishes our kind from oppression, and it has done so for centuries. 

Though not all witches believe in or worship the Devil (or even follow a darker path)—and the ‘dark baptism’ is not considered to be a common practice involved in the craft of modern-day witches—the ritual itself remains an important part of the history of European traditional witchcraft. It is a dark and primal rite representing the birth of the witch—the beauty of declaring oneself as a powerful and independent individual capable of crafting their fate through the manipulation of magick. 

I shall turn into a crow, with sorrow and sigh – and a black throw! And I’ll go in the Devil’s name, aye while I come again.

Isobel Gowdie, from The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie, Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland, compiled by Robert Pitcairn

Effy Winter is a hereditary blood witch and descendant of the Queen of Scottish Witches. She carries on the traditions and spellwork of her witch mothers, primarily working with the Devil throughout her practice of the craft. In her spare time, Effy works as a writer for various literary publications. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019), a collection of poetry stirred by romance and dark witchcraft.

 

Origins of the Witch's Flying Ointment

 

A Bloodline’s Traditions

Flying ointment, which originated thousands of years ago, was a salve or oil made of animal fat and hallucinogenic herbs. Through historical text and the written accounts of those who came before us we have learned that during the Middle Ages this ointment was concocted by the traditional witch to help initiate spirit flight, also known as hedgecrossing—the practice of traveling outside of the physical body and passing into the Otherworld.  

During the crafting of flying ointment, animal fat was used to absorb a plant’s mind-altering chemicals called tropane alkaloids. The concoction would age in the dark for months before being smeared upon the skin of the witch, making her body a vessel for magical properties that would invoke hallucinations, wild rides and frenzied dancing throughout sleep or a dream-like state. Spirits would then unroot the witch and drag her into their realm. An alternative method and tradition of applying flying ointment involved the witch anointing a wooden staff or broomstick and straddling it. Doing this helped her absorb the ointment through the mucous membranes, as it was considered dangerous or lethal to ingest the concoction. This practice accounts for why we have artwork which depicts naked witches flying on brooms. Today, the traditions and crafting of flying ointment is considered to be a precarious and controversial practice, as many of the herbs used by magical practitioners during the Middle Ages were poisonous, having the potential to cause serious illness or death if used unwisely. Witches of this time period typically used herbs of the nightshade family in their flying ointment such as mandrake, belladonna, henbane and datura which had powerful hallucinogenic properties.

The witches within my bloodline are known for their ability to perform blood magic but they are also skilled in hedgecrossing and have used flying ointment since the late 1600s to drift into the spirit realm and connect with their deities, guides and loved ones, but the salves they crafted were most commonly used before hedgecrossing to a sabbath, black mass or a blood witch’s dark baptism. During these rituals and gatherings my witch mothers would engage in practicing the craft with their coven, consummating with spirits, gods or the Devil himself. Discreetly performing spellwork by hedgecrossing protected them during the Burning Times when witches were being tortured and executed for their beliefs and traditions. It was not always safe to conduct coven meetings in the physical.

As a modern-day hereditary witch that carries on the practices of my predecessors, the tradition and crafting of the flying ointment is a very important part of my craft. Often times I use flying ointment and a sex magic enchantment to consummate with my lover who resides in the spirit realm. Here, you will find my original flying ointment recipe for sensual hedgecrossing. The herbs used in this ointment are non-toxic and do not contain hallucinogenic properties—though damiana is known to have a mild sedative effect (using this herb is optional). It is safe for beginners and those who are interested in practicing hedge witchcraft.

Effy Winter is a hereditary blood witch and descendant of the Queen of Scottish Witches. She carries on the traditions and spellwork of her witch mothers, primarily working with the Devil throughout her practice of the craft. In her spare time, Effy works as a writer for various literary publications. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019), a collection of poetry stirred by romance and dark witchcraft.

 

A Hereditary Witch's Roots

 

Bearing the Mark of the Devil

Within blood that seethes with fire, there is a thickening of root beneath my flesh. It contorts itself, calling out to the witches that bled before—my mothers who burned, swallowed the dark whole and resurrected themselves from their own ashes. These women have sewn their witchcraft and ravenous thirst into the heart of my ribcage and it has been purging wildly since birth. 

It is said that the witches within my bloodline carry the mark of the Devil and since the Dark Ages we have laid down willingly for him upon hallowed ground as red salvia and flesh-eating plants rose from black soil to clasp our bodies, calling our spirits to the hot swallow below. As mistresses of the Devil, my foremothers have walked in the shadows for centuries, feeding human mouths and the dirt of the earth with fervor and passion. They were lusted after because of their feral and provocative nature and were called upon in secret for their ability to harness immense power through their spellwork.

It was a common practice of my predecessors to nurture their bond with the Devil through the art of ritual in which they would put one hand on the crown of the head and the other to the sole of the foot while they offered all of the body existing in-between to him. According to the historic written accounts of my ancestors, during an initiation ceremony, a witch would sign her name in Satan’s black book and would then be marked with a cut on the shoulder. The blood would be sucked from the wound by the Devil himself and spat back out into his hand and he would follow this by dripping it upon the witch’s head, baptizing her in his own name. Throughout these sacred ceremonies and practice of the craft, my witch relatives would embrace the Devil as a spirit lover, consummating with him as a form of worship. 

Though the witches within my bloodline were born to harness the intensity that is the dark, it is through this sacred source that we are able to transform and manipulate everything we touch. We are natural born healers, particularly skilled in exorcising illness, relying on our bond with the Devil to do so as he leads us through our spellwork. We are known for forming relationships with spirits to manifest our desires and are also gifted in performing the art of blood and sex magic. Necromancy has been our primary form of divination for centuries.

It is a common misconception that the witches within my family strive to summon evil. It has only been our nature to create a crucial balance within the cosmos through the use of our craft and at times this may mean getting our hands dirty, but our talent for conducting dark ritual and seeking justice and liberation must not be misconstrued to mean that we partake in performing heinous acts such as murder. It is in our blood to long to venture into the blackest corridors, as this is our way of harnessing divine power and the treasure of hidden knowledge. We are bold, unafraid and will come for those that have harmed us through the art of hexing, but we are also capable of crafting strong spells to help others achieve their own ambitions. In the past, my ancestors were deeply respected in secret for their magical abilities and were often sought out by women and men alike who had a yearning for something more. 

My bloodline’s intimate bond with the Devil is congenital, as if he had claimed us long before we were born into our flesh cages, but our intrinsic desire to work with him comes from our craving for sexual liberation and longing to awaken the power within ourselves. The Devil encourages us to embrace our sexuality and renounce any sense of shame. He has offered us immense pleasure and dominance during times of the oppression and degradation of women. While working with him, we have crafted ourselves into forces that do not bend to authority and we assert our right to exercise free will, especially when it comes to our magic. I am proud to be a descendant of a lineage that represents liberation and exploration of the divine self.

As a modern-day hereditary blood witch, carrying on the practices of my relatives is essential for my survival. Though I am often persecuted for my bloodline’s traditions and our unique practice of the craft, I find strength and release in using my poetic voice to unveil this part of myself without shame.

Poetry is an art form that not only allows us to express our true selves, but it can also be used in witchcraft as incantations to speak during ritual. I have found poetry to be a very powerful tool when it comes to the act of summoning, as it is birthed from the deepest part of my soul and nothing is more intimate than this. The art of crafting poetry is tremendously personal and the catharsis that is bred from writing can be offered as a sacrifice to the gods. When we access this divine fragment of ourselves while performing spellwork, we reap great reward. Sometimes, our words spill gems from within our souls that we did not know existed.

Since I have found my voice, I am beginning to understand the importance of using it to speak out about my practice of the craft and my heritage. I feel an obligation to help those who are called to dark witchcraft to let go of their fears and embrace themselves for who they are whilst doing so fearlessly but carefully and with proper guidance. The dark offers many gifts to those who are daring enough to lurk through its dwelling.

All witches are sacred and essential for the thriving of the universe. Each practitioner offers a unique skill to help promote the cycle of life, death, nature and spirit. For some of us, it is our calling to form a bond with the shadows. It is in our nature to explore fiery, uncharted territories and dance with the Devil—for this is how we heal; this is how we are resurrected and allow ourselves to flourish.

Effy Winter is a hereditary blood witch and descendant of the Queen of Scottish Witches. She carries on the traditions and spellwork of her witch mothers, primarily working with the Devil throughout her practice of the craft. In her spare time, Effy works as a writer for various literary publications. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019), a collection of poetry stirred by romance and dark witchcraft.